Toronto’s Population since the 1800s

I dug up several interesting datasets from Statistics Canada on the population of Toronto for various census periods since the 1800s. The chart below shows the population of the Toronto CMA for every year since 1821 (keep in mind I had to estimate population for some years in between the “census” periods).

Figure 1 – Toronto CMA Population, 1821 – 2016
Toronto Pop 1800 - 2016

Figure 2 – Year over Year Population Change of Toronto CMA, 1821 – 2016
Toronto Pop % 1800 - 2016

I take away four major things from looking at these charts –

  1. Toronto is a fairly young city (region)! I think Toronto’s Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat said it best – “We’re still building Toronto!
  2. Toronto is a constantly growing and changing city (region). Don’t expect things to stay the same. Don’t expect your neighbourhood or neighbours to look the same. So embrace the change!
    • In fact, it’s quite funny when you read news articles or watch video clips about the City from 20, 30, or 70 years ago – you will see almost identical issues over and over again – too much growth; too much congestion/traffic; house prices too high; this city will fall apart if we don’t take any action; how will my children ever afford homes in Toronto?
  3. It is evident from the second chart that significant population spikes happened several times throughout the city’s history. Most notably in the 1820s, the 1830s, the 1880s, early 1900s, the 1950s and a smaller spike in the 1980s.
  4. There was a decline in population in only 10 of the 200 years of available population data for the Toronto CMA.
    • Put another way, throughout 95% of its history, Toronto was growing.

I can’t with authority explain what happened at each of the individual periods to cause the population to spike, but I can take a stab at a few –

  1. 1880s I assume could be due to confederation;
  2. 1950s is likely due to the postwar baby boom and immigration;
  3. 1980s is likely due to strong economic growth, influx of immigrants, fear of Quebec leaving the country, etc.

I am however very curious as to what explains population spikes during the other periods, and would love to know from any of my readers whether they can explain the other population spikes, or further elaborate on the ones I attempted to explain.

Below are some additional charts that show population growth and annual percent change broken up by (roughly) hundred year periods – 1) 1821 – 1900, and 2) 1901 – 2016, to give some context as to the happenings in each individual century.

Figure 3 – Toronto CMA Population, 1821 – 1900
Toronto Pop 1800 - 1900

Figure 4 – Toronto CMA Population, 1901 – 2016
Toronto Pop 1900 - 2016

Figure 5 – Year over Year Population Change of Toronto CMA, 1821 – 1900
Toronto Pop % 1800 - 1900

Figure 6 – Year over Year Population Change of Toronto CMA, 1901 – 2016
Toronto Pop % 1900 - 2016


Statistics Canada, Census of Canada – pre 1971

Statistics Canada, Census of Canada – 1971 – 2016



History of US Bear & Bull Markets Since 1926

I saw a really cool post on twitter that charted all the bear and bull markets in the US since 1926. Here is a link to the chart.

Keep in mind that only the S&P 500 is charted here. The S&P 500 is an American stock market index based on the market capitalizations of 500 large companies having common stock listed on the NYSE or NASDAQ


The most interesting thing I found through this chart is this –

  • the average Bull Market period lasted 8.9 years with an average cumulative return of 490% (or an average annual return of 55%)
  • the average Bear Market period lasted 1.3 years with an average cumulative loss of -41% (or an average annual loss of 31.5%)

This simply means that you are almost always guaranteed to make money investing in the stock market. Think of it this way – if you began investing in the stock market with $1 at the start of a bull market, you are likely to generate a cumulative return of 490% or have roughly $4.90 at the end of the bull run, after 8.9 years. Then comes a bear market and wipes out about 41% of your portfolio in 1.3 years. So you’re left with about $2.90 after a bull and bear market (or about 10.2 years).

Essentially, you have tripled your investment in about 10 years, after all the ups and downs – a much higher return than if it sat in a regular savings account or under your mattress. If the money sat in a savings account earning on average 2% per year, you would have about $1.22 after about 10 years.

* none of these figures were adjusted for inflation


If you don’t have a robust economy, forget about sustenance or revival

I read a very interesting piece on Cleveland’s potential “comeback”, which should not come as a surprise to anyone as there has been a lot of talk of a comeback for a number of major rust belt cities like Detroit, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, etc. What I was not aware of about Cleveland was that there was a brief “comeback” period during the 1990s. The city lured the Cleveland Cavs, built new stadiums, added nightlife options, shops, etc., in the downtown, in an attempt to reinvigorate it. The end goal was to have residents who lived in the suburbs come to the City to spend money. However, this initiative did not pan out as expected because Cleveland was lacking one major ingredient – a robust regional economy. Without that, the money to spend at all these new and exciting venues was limited.

Interestingly, a localized/internal economy will often not be enough to drive a comeback or sustain a (medium or large sized) city. What is required is a “tradable economy”, as the author states, which allows goods or services to be sold outside a region. The “tradable economy” is important because it brings outside money in – something which can rarely be created through a localized/internal economy.

But there is also another crucial element to consider regarding a robust and “tradable economy” – accessibility.

A former Masters professor of mine, Steven Farber produced a fascinating study and several maps that detail the level of opportunity in terms of how easily people can access jobs in the city by different modes of transportation  in the Toronto region. Farber determined that residents with access to a car unsurprisingly have access to the greatest number of jobs. However, he also determined that residents without cars who live along subway lines can access about 30% of the jobs that those with cars can (within 45 minutes). And for residents without a car that live away from subway lines, they can only access 5-10% of the jobs that people with cars can access.

Figure 1 – The ratio of jobs reachable by transit compared to cartransit-axccess-jobs-cars

An important point emerges through Farber’s work – the robust and “tradable economy” can be quite limited if those without a car are able to access only a portion of those jobs.